1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition

In the 21st century, the United States issues dozens of commemorative stamps each year. At the beginning of the 1900s, however, commemoratives were still a relatively new concept, and they were produced only in conjunction with major events.

Such was the case with the five stamps issued to complement the 1904 World’s Fair, better known to stamp collectors as the Louisiana Purchase Exposition. The Fair was held in St. Louis, where France had a century earlier formally transferred control of Upper Louisiana to the U.S.1

The stamps went on sale on April 30, the first day of the Exposition.2 Robert Livingston (1¢), Thomas Jefferson (2¢), and James Monroe (3¢) were all involved in the purchase of Louisiana from France: Jefferson as president, and Livingston and Monroe as the U.S. negotiators.

Green 1-cent U.S. postage stamp picturing Robert R. Livingston
Robert R. Livingston
Red 2-cent U.S. postage stamp picturing Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
Purple 3-cent U.S. postage stamp picturing James Monroe
James Monroe
Blue 5-cent U.S. postage stamp picturing William McKinley
William McKinley
Brown 10-cent U.S. postage stamp picturing map of United States with territory included in Louisiana Purchase highlighted
Map of Louisiana Purchase

The 5¢ stamp pictures William McKinley, who signed the law authorizing the Fair, while the 10¢ design features a map of the United States with the area included in the Louisiana Purchase highlighted.

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References

  1. The Louisiana Purchase. Louisiana State Museum. Accessed 9 June 2011.
  2. Nettles, Dr. Elizabeth J., and David L. Straight. The Louisiana Purchase Exposition and The Mail. The American Philatelist, Oct. 2004. Accessed 9 June 2011.